Vytautas Barkauskas (1931 – 2020) was one of the most prolific Lithuanian modern composers. He was a graduate in mathematics (1953) and music composition (1959) – of late he was professor in the Department of Composition of the Lithuanian Academy of Music.
The works of Vytautas Barkauskas have been performed at international festivals, competitions and concerts in various European, American and Asian countries. Festivals include Schreyahner Herbst (1991, 1993, 1996, Germany), Schleswig-Holstein Festival (1992, Germany), De Suite Muziekweek (1995, The Netherlands), Baltische Woche (1996, Germany), Baltic Arts ’96 (Great Britain), Bornholms Musikfestival (1996, Denmark), Rheingau Music Festival (1997, Germany), Sibelius Festival (1998, Finland), ISCM World Music Days 2000 (Luxembourg), Festival de musique de Toulon (2002, France). His works have been interpreted by Gidon Kremer, Lothar Faber, Yuri Bashmet, David Geringas, Joachim Greiner, Juozas Domarkas, Raimundas Katilius, Nobuko Imai, Philippe Graffin, and others.
Vytautas Barkauskas was a winner of the Lithuanian State Prize. In 2000 his “Journey of the Princess. Fairy Tale”, Op. 114 was awarded the prize at the composers’ competition dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. His symphonic piece entitled “At the End is the Beginning”, Op. 115 was awarded the prize at the “Sinfonia Baltica” International Composers’ Competition in 2001. In 2003 the composer was awarded the Lithuanian National Award. In 2005 he won the prize for the best chamber work (“Echoes” for percussion solo) at the composers’ competition organized by the Lithuanian Composers’ Union.
In the 1960s Vytautas Barkauskas was one of the most active adherents of avant-garde music and new compositional techniques in Lithuania. The works of this period (“Intimate Composition” (1968), “Pro memoria” (1970) e.g.) manifested the lexis of structuralized forms. The greatest influences upon him at that time, as the composer himself stated, were Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutoslawski and György Ligeti. Barkauskas was one of the first in Lithuania to experiment with serial and aleatoric composition, collage and other innovations.
Later, the composer moved towards more intuitively arranged sounds, striving to create naturally beautiful music. He started to write more chamber and intimate compositions, sometimes those with “silent culminations” (Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra). Having mastered various compositional techniques of the 20th century, the composer consistently developed and perfected his musical idiom. “I do not restrict myself to any single, defined compositional system, but am constantly searching for a natural stylistic synthesis. I strive to make my music expressive, emotional and of a concerto type”, Barkauskas said.